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Anosognosia: Does Someone with Dementia Know They Have it?

Are dementia patients aware of their condition? Many people struggle with a parent in denial about dementia or a spouse in denial of dementia. Dementia impaired judgment can cause distorted perceptions of reality. However, it’s important to note that being in denial about dementia is different from anosognosia, which means simply not knowing you have dementia. If you’re reading up on how to help someone with dementia who is in denial, this may not be the post for you (we’ll give you more info on why later). However, we will answer the following questions.

  • Does a person with dementia know they have dementia?

  • What is the difference between dementia denial and anosognosia dementia?

  • How can you help someone with anosognosia dementia?

Do Patients with Dementia Know They Have It?

People often ask, “Does someone with dementia know they have it?” In some cases, the short answer is no. Brain damage and various cognitive impairments can affect one’s sense of judgment, resulting in their inability to know they have it. Alternatively, a person with dementia may know they have it and simply be in denial, telling loved ones that everything is fine.

So, what is the phenomenon of not knowing you have dementia called?

What is Anosognosia in Dementia?

Anosognosia literally translates to “to not know a disease” and is common in mental health conditions. Symptoms vary from person to person but overall, it causes one to be unaware of their condition and how it affects them. If your loved one received a dementia diagnosis but doesn’t know or believe they have dementia, they have anosognosia.

So my parent with dementia is in denial, right? Wrong.

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Denial of Dementia Vs. Anosognosia Dementia

When someone is in denial, they simply refuse to accept a fact. Anosognosia causes brain damage to make it impossible for one to be aware of what’s happening to them.

Finally, let’s review what you can do to help someone with anosognosia dementia.

Helping Someone with Anosognosia Dementia

If you’re wondering how to deal with dementia denial, this may not be the right post for you. However, we will provide some tips for helping someone with anosognosia. Below are a few things you can do.

  • Don’t try to convince them otherwise. Trying to convince your loved ones that they have dementia will only anger them. Instead, try to take steps so they can live safely. This can include reducing fire hazards in the kitchen or driving them to appointments.

  • Pick your battles. Try stepping into their reality rather than correct them. Solve problems without their knowledge and let non-serious conflicts slide to prevent them from rebelling against you.

  • Present positive solutions. Don’t tell them, “You can’t go for a walk alone. You’ll endanger yourself. Instead, tell them “You want to go for a walk? Let me come with you. It’s a beautiful day out today and it’s a great opportunity for both of us to get some fresh air.”

Work with their care team. This can include doctors, relatives, and friends. Furthermore, read up on other dementia care techniques so you’re armed with as much knowledge as possible.